WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) has resigned his House seat, effective immediately, his office announced Thursday afternoon, ending a congressional career that spanned more than two decades.
Fattah, who was convicted this week on federal corruption charges, on Wednesday had submitted his resignation effective Oct. 3. But that was not enough to satisfy House leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.), who had called on Fattah to leave immediately and could have mounted a vote to expel him.
In a letter to Ryan Thursday, Fattah wrote that he hoped to resign later to ensure an orderly transition after 21 years in office. "However, out of respect for the entire House leadership, and so as not to cause a distraction from the House's work for the people, I have changed my effective date," Fattah wrote.
His seat will now remain vacant until either a special election or early next year, when a new member of congress is sworn in. By law, Gov. Wolf must call the special election within 10 days of Fattah's resignation, but the law does not specify when the election should be held -- other than taht it must be at least 60 days from the congressman's departure.
That makes late August the earliest time an election could be held. One way to save the cost would be to hold the special election on the same day as the Nov. 8 general election. In that scenario, the winner of the special election would immediately go to Congress.
Fattah was already on his way out after losing the Democratic primary to state Rep. Dwight Evans in April.
When members of Congress resign their offices remain open for constituent services, under the supervision of the House clerk.